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- Richard Dare's Venture - 5/35 -
"How much I don't care about the money for myself, but--"
"Yes, I understand," broke in Mr. Barrows. "Well, I'll tell you. I'll take you to learn the trade for three years, and start you at two dollars a week. I wouldn't give any other boy half of that, but I know you're smart, and I feel it my duty to help you along."
Richard bit his lip in disappointment. He knew that what Mr. Barrows said about the amount was true, but still he needed more, and for that reason, he had, somehow, expected a larger sum to be offered.
"I'm much obliged, but I'll have to think it over before I decide," he said. "Three years is a long time to bind one's self."
"Oh, they'll slip by before you know it. Besides, I'll raise your wages just as soon as you are worth it," said Mr. Barrows.
"I'll see about it," was all the boy could answer.
"Two dollars a week would not go far towards supporting a family of five," sighed Richard, as he walked away. "And then to be a house painter all one's life! I must strike something else."
But "striking something else" was no easy matter, as the boy soon learned. A visit to the two stores, the blacksmith shop and to several people whom he thought might give him employment, brought forth no results of value. Either they had nothing for him to do, or else the pay offered was altogether too small.
Richard returned home late in the afternoon. Grace met him at the end of the lane.
"Any luck, Dick?" she asked eagerly.
"No," he replied, and related his experience.
"Never mind," returned his sister. "Maybe it isn't so bad after all. The minister is here."
"Yes, he's in the parlor talking to mamma, and I heard them mention your name, and say something about New York."
Richard's heart gave a bound. He knew that Mr. Cook, who was their old family pastor, had great influence with his mother, and that she would probably go to him for advice.
"Guess I'll go in and hear what he has to say," said Richard, and a moment later he knocked on the parlor door and entered.
Mr. Cook shook him cordially by the hand.
"We have just been speaking about you," he said. "How have you fared in your search for employment?"
The boy told him.
"Mossvale is so small, there is hardly any chance," he added.
"Your mother tells me that you have an idea you could do better in New York," went on the minister. "It is a big place, and nearly every one is almost too busy to notice a new-comer."
"I know that. But I should watch my chances."
"And there are many temptations there that never arise in such a place as this," continued Mr. Cook earnestly; "and it very often takes all the will power a person possesses to keep in the straight and narrow path."
"I wouldn't do what wasn't right!" burst out Richard. "I'd starve first!"
Mr. Cook looked down into the clear, outspoken face before him.
"I believe it," he declared. "You have had a good training, thanks to your mother and father. Well, I have advised her to let you try your luck in the great metropolis."
"Oh, Mr. Cook!"
"Yes. Now don't get excited. She has thought it over, and agrees to let you go for two weeks, at least. The fare is only four dollars and a half, and board for that length of time will not be much. Of course you can't put up at an expensive hotel."
"I won't put up anywhere until I find a job," declared Richard. "I only want my railroad ticket, and a dollar or two extra."
"Indeed not!" put in Mrs. Dare. "I would not have you stay out doors all night, like a tramp. There are plenty of cheap lodging-houses."
"And when can I go?" asked Richard eagerly.
His mother gave a sad little smile.
"Do you want to leave your mother so very soon?" she asked.
"Oh, no, only I want to be doing something--helping you and the rest," he replied quickly.
"Then you shall go bright and early next Monday morning," returned Mrs. Dare, and she turned away to hide the tears that sprang up at the thought of her only boy leaving the shelter of the quiet country home, to mingle with strangers in the great city more than a hundred miles away.
As for Richard he was delighted with the prospects. At last the dream of many months was to be realized. He was to go to New York, to tread the streets of the great metropolis, to find a place for himself, and make a fortune!
Little did he know or care for the many trials and disappointments in store for him. He was striking out for himself, and intended to do his level best.
Would he succeed or fail?
We shall see.
ON THE TRAIN.
Of course there was a good deal of talking about Richard's proposed venture. The girls seemed never to tire of it, and the amount of advice that they gave their brother was enough, as the boy declared, "to help him along until eternity, and two days afterwards."
"You'll want your best clothes, city folks are so particular," declared Grace. "And your shirts and collars will have to be as stiff as old Deacon Moore's, I expect."
"I only want things clean and neat," replied Richard. "I'm not going there to be a dude. I'm going there to work--if I can get anything to do."
Nevertheless, Grace was bound that he should look his best, and spent an extra hour over the washtub and ironing-board.
It was decided that he should not be hampered with a trunk, but should take a valise instead.
This Mrs. Dare packed herself, and placed in the hallway late on Saturday afternoon.
Meanwhile Richard was not idle. He did not wish to leave any work around the place unfinished, and early and late he spent many hours in the house and in the garden, doing the things that were most needed.
Sunday morning the whole family, including little Madge, attended the pretty white church that was the one pride of Mossvale. Richard suspected that Mr. Cook had expected him to be there, for the sermon was on the text, "Be thou strong in the faith," and advised all, especially the young, to stick to their Christian principles, despite the alluring, but harmful, enticements of the great world around them.
It was a sober little crowd that gathered in the kitchen in the dusk after supper. Richard was a trifle louder in his manner than usual, but this was only an effort to cover up the evidence of his real seriousness.
"You must not forget to write as soon as you arrive and find a stopping place," cautioned Mrs. Dare for at least the fifth time.
"Yes, and don't forget to tell us all about what happened on the train," put in Grace. "I'm sure that in such a long ride as that you ought to have some kind of an adventure."
"I trust that he does not," returned the mother. "An adventure would probably mean an accident, and we have had enough already;" and she gave a long sigh.
"Don't fear but what I'll write," replied Richard. "And if anything unusual happens I'll put it down."
But all evenings must come to an end, and finally, as the clock struck ten, the good-night word went its round, and they separated.
No need to call Richard on the following morning. He was up and dressed at five, and impatient for the start. Every one turned in towards serving him a hot breakfast, and in addition Mrs. Dare put him up a tidy lunch in a box.
There was one thing, though, that the boy was obstinate about. He would not accept all of the money that Mrs. Dare thought it her duty to make him take. The price of his ticket and five dollars was Richard's limit, and to this he stuck.
"If I get real hard up I'll write for more," was his declaration. "You will need what you have saved, and I am sure I can get along without it."
Mrs. Dare shook her head. But it was all to no purpose. Richard was firm, and doubly so when Grace gave him a pert look of approval.
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